Greens democracy spokesperson Senator Lee Rhiannon and Greens mining and resources spokesperson Senator Larissa Waters have commented on Ian Macfarlane’s appointment to the Queensland Resources Council.
Senator Lee Rhiannon said, “The revolving door between the political class and the mining and resources sector causes deep cynicism about MPs and democratic institutions.
“There is a perception in parts of the community that the mining and resources sector and mining-friendly governments are one and the same. Ministers provide a secure framework, grants and subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and in exchange expect jobs upon retirement.
“The fact Mr Macfarlane can ignore the rules shows why we urgently need legislated ethical standards for ministers, donations reform and a national corruption watchdog.
“There’s no point having a code of conduct if it can be breached with no consequences. We need to look at the regulations which govern political lobbying and clean them up, and introduce an official ‘cooling off’ period,” Senator Rhiannon said.
Senator Larissa Waters said, “Ian Macfarlane’s reported appointment to head of the Queensland Resources Council is a disgrace and shows just how broken our political system is.
“Our politics have been hijacked by big polluters, and this is just the most recent example.
“Australians are sick to death of the revolving door between politics, big business and big polluters.
“The mining industry and big polluters stalk the halls of power and they’re set to receive $24 billion in fossil fuel subsides in the next four years. Ordinary Australians can never hope for that level of access.
Ian Macfarlane’s appointment to the Queensland Resources Council comes four months after former Prime Minister Tony Abbott said in the chamber, referring to Mr Macfarlane’s efforts to dump Labor’s mining tax, ‘It was a magnificent achievement by the [member] for Groom in his time as minister ... and I hope the sector will acknowledge and demonstrate their gratitude to him in his years of retirement from this place…’.
The appointment appears to be in breach of parts of the 2013 Ministerial Standards, which requires an 18-month cooling off period before former ministers take lobbying jobs.
The Ministerial Standards clearly state that: ‘Ministers are required to undertake that, for an eighteen month period after ceasing to be a Minister, they will not lobby, advocate or have business meetings with members of the government, parliament, public service or defence force on any matters on which they have had official dealings as Minister in their last eighteen months in office.’”
Ministers are also required to undertake that, on leaving office, they will not take personal advantage of information to which they have had access as a Minister, where that information is not generally available to the public.”
Former senior Cabinet Ministers Greg Combet, Craig Emerson and Martin Ferguson, as well as former Deputy Prime Ministers John Anderson and Mark Vaile, have all left politics to lobby for the resources industry.